By NICK GIONGCO
Manny Pacquiao has to be sensational against Lucas Matthysse that a lackluster showing against the Argentine world welterweight champion in their July 15 duel in Malaysia could mean one thing: retirement.
“If he doesn’t win, it is time to step away,” said Mike Koncz, Pacquiao’s Canadian adviser said as there are concrete plans to see the Filipino legend get paired with Ukrainian hotshot Vasyl Lomachenko in November.
Koncz said that if Pacquiao beats Matthysse, it has already been decided that Lomachenko will be next in line and that both fighters have agreed to meet at a catchweight of 140 lbs, which is the super-lightweight limit.
Lomachenko is currently campaigning at lightweight (130 lbs) while Pacquiao’s showdown with Matthysse is at welterweight (147 lbs).
To set the stage for the super showdown between the former pound-for-pound king and the heir apparent, Lomachenko is making his debut at 135 lbs (lightweight) on May 12 when he battles world champion Jorge Linares of Venezuela.
“We’re not overlooking it (Matthysee) because we know he’s a live opponent. It’s not a Brandon Rios-type of opponent so we’re gonna focus on this fight and the whole goal is we look very impressive, we walk away with the win, nobody gets injured, then we fight Lomachenko in the fall,” said Koncz.
“He (Lomachenko) will have to prevail in his upcoming fight, too, it has a lot of moving parts,” he said.
Lomachenko, holder of a 10-1 win-loss card with eight KOs, has won world titles at feather (126 lbs) and super-feather (130 lbs).
In the amateur ranks, Lomachenko was legendary, having won two Olympic gold medals and two world championships.
Lomachenko, like Pacquiao, has promotional links with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc., making it easy for the two to agree on terms.
Meanwhile, the Malaysia leg of the two-city press tour hyping the Pacquiao-Matthysse encounter shifts to Kuala Lumpur today.
Pacquiao and Matthysse and the stakeholders were scheduled to fly to the Malaysian capital last night via Philippine Airlines.
The kickoff presser was held Wednesday in grand style at the City of Dreams with representatives of Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions in attendance.
Pacquiao, 39, is the slight favorite against Matthysse, 35, who will be making the first defense of the World Boxing Association crown he had won last January.
This will be Pacquiao’s first fight since being upset by Jeff Horn in Australia in July last year.